#4257

Hot spring etiquette: Please, do hot-bath like a pro.

A place to meditate ?

Hot springs are often marketed for their positive effects on health: skin, articulations, cardio-vascular system, muscular relaxation… depending on its mineral content, the hot water is supposed to have an impact on your body. As the Romans used to say - and they were enjoying hot springs too - mens sana in corpore sano : healthy mind in a healthy body. In Japan, we could also say that the reverse is true: healthy body in healthy mind as both together create a whole.

This is when hot springs come into the picture. Hot springs are above all, a contemplating, activity designed to rejuvenate your mind. The hot water and the sulphur smell have that pacifying effect on you. If you keep that in mind, you will be all right.

Here is your check list before you go inside :

- Do you have a towel with you? If you don’t, try to find a « tenugui » shop and get one of those. It’s made of coton and comes in many colors and patterns. It will be one of your best souvenir from Japan. Hot springs are so hot that you will dry very fast so a tenugui is enough. The last one I got in Kusatsu represents the Milky Way. It is so beautiful that the shop owner showed it off in a frame. It was the last one. He suggested to take it from the frame for me. I was a bit embarrassed by his kind offer but I could not resist and as a gift to myself, I got the Milky Way.

- Do you have tattoos? If you do, you should know that many places (not all) will refuse you because public bath are traditionally forbidden to mafia people, who are recognized because of their tattoo. Today, body art is not restricted to the mafia anymore and you will find many places that tolerates them. It’s good to ask before you enter the place. If it is small, you might have to hide it with a band-aid. You can also go to a spa with private bath section.

About etiquette

- Hot spring in Japan is in the nude so it can be intimidating. There is no promiscuity and nobody’s watching though… It is also gender-segregated (usually). So, keep cool, don’t watch others, and get over the first embarrassing moment.
- First you undress totally. No swimsuits. Don’t worry, the hot springs are not gender-mixed. Keep cool and discreet, hide-away critical parts without making a fuss and you will be all right.
- You go in the bath area and first take a shower and wash effusively with a lot of foam. After all you will use the same bath as other people and you want the water to be clean. By taking a shower, you return the courtesy to everyone. When you leave your shower spot, rinse the shower set.
- Now, time has come to go into the water. It is very hot and you need to do it smoothly. No diving, no splashing… You are about to enter that sacred shore that will free your mind and relax your body and so is everyone else. If you are not sure, check out how everyone does.
- There is one thing you need to really care for: always leave your towel outside the water. It is rude to put your towel in the water. Japanese people sometimes fold their towel neatly and put it on their head. I think it is just an easy way to keep an eye on your towel and not drop it in the water. You can also leave your towel on the side. If it inadvertently falls in the water, it happens, dry it outside the bath.
- In all circumstances, keep your head out of the water. It is easier to breathe, you know.
- Hot springs are dedicated to relaxation and contemplation. Of course, you can discuss with your friends and some people will talk to you but in a quiet manner.

What do you do after a hot spring? You get a glass of water and relax in the lounge area. You can also have diner, a refreshing beer, and just enjoy the time that you have dedicated to yourself.

Claire image

Claire

Belgium

Claire's other advice

Kasai Rinkai Park : enjoy the sea ! images

Kasai Rinkai Park : enjoy the sea !

If you want to get away from high-rise building without going too far, Kasai Rinkai parc is your place. One station before Disneyland (Maihama), on the Keiyo line, it takes you 20 minutes to get …

Enjoy the cherry blossoms images

Enjoy the cherry blossoms

Every spring, it is the same thing: everyone are getting very (positively) anxious and are looking forward to enjoying the cherry blossoms.Spring is there. 8 blossoms on a tree, and it's done. C…

Indulge myself with a small luxury : a minitrip to Kusatsu images

Indulge myself with a small luxury : a minitrip to Kusatsu

Have you ever had that feeling that your mind is stuck with your work and you need to get away from the office for a while? Staying home is not an option because then, you will not stay focus on your…

A trip to hot springs? images

A trip to hot springs?

I remember one business meeting I attended and the quizzical look of my Belgian business partner when our Japanese host suggested a trip to hot springs together. We knew him very well, but…, a trip t…

Omotenashi - a tradition made famous by Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic 2020 images

Omotenashi - a tradition made famous by Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic 2020

Since Tokyo has been nominated to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, « omotenashi » has become the buzz word to epitomize Japan’s art of welcoming guests and attract tourists. But what do…

« The train came out of the long border tunnel ... images

« The train came out of the long border tunnel ...

A short trip at Kusatsu Onsen.You may be on a business trip in Tokyo, with jet lag and many meetings weighting heavily on your shoulders and mind. You do have one day and a half though to discove…

You might also like

What to do at a Japanese Funeral | Funeral Etiquette images

What to do at a Japanese Funeral | Funeral Etiquette

Attending a Japanese funeral can be stressful, even shocking, if you don't know what to do. The more you know beforehand the better, as you'll be able to comfort and support mutual friends and their …

Former Deep Japan Writer image

Former Deep Japan Writer

Know your Receipts in Japan! images

Know your Receipts in Japan!

Are you in Japan on business and working with a Japanese firm? Will you be taking your clients out for a meal?Recently I have been doing some consulting work for one of Japan’s eminent Chinese cuis…

 image

Japanese Massage Etiquette to Enjoy a Relaxing, Stress Relieving Moment images

Japanese Massage Etiquette to Enjoy a Relaxing, Stress Relieving Moment

Just last week, I’ve experienced another massage establishment called “Minnanotemomi”. Minnanotemomi mean’s roughly everyone’s massage and the massage they did for me was excellent caliber, yet one o…

AustinA image

AustinA

Figuring out the Green Car in Japan: JR Train Business Class Seats images

Figuring out the Green Car in Japan: JR Train Business Class Seats

JR Green Car is my favorite way to travel. After living here almost 27 years I still almost start to cry when I see the Green Car (premium seat car) slide past and go way down to the other side of th…

 image

How to be Polite in a Restaurant in Japan? images

How to be Polite in a Restaurant in Japan?

These are not just little finger towels placed neatly next to your plate for conveniently wiping stray food off of hands and fingers...these Oshibori are almost like an appetizer to the meal itself. …

 image

I was born in Osaka Japan and Here is My View images

I was born in Osaka Japan and Here is My View

Let me compare Tokyo and Osaka in terms of culture by using a metaphor of kitchen accessory. Tokyo is "Sponge". It soaks up all kinds of information and people are somehow drawn to this metropoli…

yumin image

yumin